Barcelona are coming off two straight disappointing seasons and now want to turn things around and again become title contenders. Are the “Blaugrana” capable of winning all titles next season?
Barcelona are considered one of Europe’s powerhouses. There is no doubt about it. However, they have been unsuccessful in the past two seasons and have only claimed the 2018 Copa Del Rey.
The Catalans have not qualified to the EuroLeague playoffs in 2017 and 2018, while they haven’t won the ACB title since 2014.
With that in mind, the two-time EuroLeague champions want to return to the top of Spain and Europe and worked very hard during the off-season to strengthen their roster.
One month before the start of the EuroLeague, the “Blaugrana” have seen their legendary captain, Juan Carlos Navarro, put an end to his great career, but they have managed to create an impressive roster, with versatile and talented players that can make the difference in more than one positions.
Coming off the best season of his career, Kevin Pangos left Zalgiris Kaunas and joined Barcelona. The Canadian point guard (12.7 points, 5.9 assists, 47.5% in threes) is a pick’n’roll specialist and a great three-point shooter, who is expected to create the most fun-to-watch duo with Thomas Heurtel.
Pau Ribas is a versatile guard that can play very well on both ends of the floor, while newcomers Kyle Kuric and Jaka Blazic complement each other in a perfect way.
The American shooting guard is tremendous from beyond the arc (43.3% last season) and the Slovenian’s all-around playing style will be an extra “weapon” in head coach Svetislav Pesic’s tactics.
The return to action of defensive specialist Adam Hanga is of paramount importance for the squad. Yet, his chemistry with his backcourt mates (especially Pangos and Heurtel) will determine his role in the team.
Barcelona’s frontline was not so effective last year. This will probably change in the upcoming season, as the club brought in players that can make the difference both inside the paint and above the rim.
Big man Artem Pustovyi signed with the Catalans and will be one of the reference points on both ends of the floor. The Ukrainian giant (2.16 m) will also team up with Ante Tomic and Kevin Seraphin in the frontline.
The Croatian center, who will be the team’s captain next season, wants to return to his previous high standards, after a series of mediocre performances in the previous years.
At the same time, Seraphin worked very hard during the off-season in order to become a game changer in Barcelona’s effort to return to the top.
The Catalans convinced Chris Singleton to leave Panathinaikos and become Barcelona’s leader next season.
The American power forward/center was one of the “Greens” best players, especially offensively, and the Catalans are expecting him to make the difference with his great shooting percentage and his all-around playing style.
Alongside Singleton, Rolands Smits, Pierre Oriola and Victor Claver will come off the bench to offer decent solutions, both defensively and offensively.
The Spanish giants made some excellent moves during the off-season. However, they will need plenty of time to improve their chemistry level. They have proved that in their first preparation games.
Although it is still too early in the season, the two-time EuroLeague champions will be trying to impose a run’n’gun playing style, based on transition and three-pointers.
With three-point specialists Kuric, Singleton and Pangos on the floor, most plays will include many on and off-ball screens that will lead to open shots and pick’n’pop situations.
Even though the squad shot at 16.4% in the first three preparation games (9/55), it is certain their shooting percentage will range between 35-40% during the season.
At the same time, Pesic will want his players to quickly run the floor. Such plays can lead to a high number of turnovers, though. With that in mind, the players should be patient and make the best decision in order to have great ball movement.
Last but not least, coach Pesic has to work as hard as he can in his defensive plays. More than half of the players in the roster are mediocre defenders.
So, the Serbian coach has to find a way to hide their defensive flaws, especially in the first part of the season, when the team’s schedule in the EuroLeague is more than difficult.
Barcelona will play only twice at home in the first eight games (against Bayern Munich and Maccabi Tel-Aviv, respectively), while they will travel to Gran Canaria, Moscow (CSKA Moscow and Khimki), Istanbul (Darussafaka), Kaunas (Zalgiris) and Athens (Panathinaikos).
With that in mind, it is obvious the Catalans will have to be at their very best on both ends of the floor, if they want to start the season in a successful way.
Against Andorra in the Catalan League Final, the “Blaugrana” conceded 17 three-pointers. An identical number in the first EuroLeague matches will put them in a vulnerable position and may cost them the victory.
And a series of defeats in the first part of the season will add more pressure to the squad. And that is something coach Pesic will certainly want to avoid.
Overall, the new signings can help Barcelona become a title contender once again.
Many betting websites have already started offering early odds, predictions and bonus codes (like the bonus code for Bet365) regarding the new EuroLeague season and Barcelona are already considered one of the favourites to reach the playoffs.
And if their chemistry is at high levels, then they could go all the way and advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2014.